I’ve never been a Joel Osteen basher. Years ago I listened to some of his messages and was uplifted by them. At the end he invited people to embrace Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. Yet, the video below where Victoria Osteen gives a brief exhortation is a great illustration of what happens when anyone divorces Jesus from the story line in which he lived, acted, and proclaimed his message of the kingdom.
Jesus is very popular all around the world – unfortunately – many people have the wrong Jesus. In our world we can find a Hindu Jesus, a Muslim Jesus, a Mormon Jesus, a New Age Jesus, and in this ministry, a self-help, therapeutic Jesus who exists to help us be all we can be. It’s not that these people are crazy. I’m not even sure I would call them evil. It is that they, along with so many others, have lifted Jesus out of the story line of Scripture (the kingdom of God) and placed him within another story line. In my next book, Changing the Stories of the World, coming out in November of this year, I address this very important point – we must recapture the story line of Scripture in order to avoid such nonsense. We must learn and retell The Story accurately. We must recover the “kingdom of God Jesus” – or we open ourselves to delusion and deception.
A few weeks ago I read an article in Christianity Today magazine on how issuing forgiveness to other people is the new hot topic. Everyone is talking about it including the secular doctors of psychology and medicine – Dr. Phil and Dr. Oz – and many others. The “buzz-phrase” is “do yourself a favor and forgive others,” or “forgiveness is about you.” Well, that is partly true. When we choose to forgive we do free ourselves. Yes! Of course! That is a good thing. The article, however, showed that this a side product and not the biblical emphasis. The biblical emphasis is, “Forgive others just as God has forgiven you.” The primary reason we forgive others is that we have been forgiven. This biblical emphasis keeps God at the center. The new emphasis we hear in churches and on pop psychology TV puts man at the center – do it for yourself.
This is yet another form of idolatry. Anytime we put anyone or anything at the center, we become idolaters. The video of the Osteens is unfortunately another example of Western idolatry.